Mr. Queen: Episodes 13-14 Open Thread
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction — so it is in physics as it is in the royal court. From the mayhem at the festival, to the powerful ledger and who holds it, to our hero remembering more and more about the queen’s life: every action has its consequence.
EPISODES 13-14 WEECAP
Court politics are kicked up a notch after the disasters at the festival showed how ruthless our warring clans truly are. Bong-hwan is desperate for two things: to stay alive, and to keep his sexual identity intact. But both are proving more difficult than he could imagine.
As Bong-hwan continues to lose himself in So-yong, it becomes clear that he has to be as strategic and calculating as the rest if he wants to survive. Another dive into the lake, and Bong-hwan becomes even more So-yong: we get a very clear picture of the torment So-yong was under when she tried to kill herself. “There’s nothing that’s not a lie,” she weeps — and our “second gen” So-yong realizes gravely: this entire place killed Kim So-yong.
Armed with all of So-yong’s memories, our second gen So-yong remembers everything from Byung-in’s kiss and confession, to the initial coldness from Cheoljong, to all of the horrors and backstabbing and lies that sent her into the lake to commit suicide.
But even if Bong-hwan is about 75% So-yong at this point, he’s still struggling between the tug of two very different poles: his desire to stay a man and live it up with Hong-yeon and the concubines, and his/So-yong’s desire to be a woman to Cheoljong.
This tension reaches its highest peak this week, in a weird sequence where a sleeping So-yong rouses and thinks Hong-yeon has arrived to sleep with her… but we later see it’s actually Cheoljong that’s there, and they do indeed sleep together (no question about it this time lol).
This tension and talk about sex and sexual identities is pretty frank — but I admit I’m still confused about what the show actually wants to do with it. Are we just going to lose Bong-hwan in So-yong’s female identity forever? Is Bong-hwan going to continue to fight it and walk this line, confusing him deeply, between his concubine-focused sexual urges and his new Cheoljong-focused ones?
Because although the court story is moving forward, we seem to have all but abandoned the story of the real Bong-hwan. This is fine, I’d just like to know if this story is supposed to be about Bong-hwan relinquishing his entire identity to So-yong, or if he’s holding on to the shreds of his maleness for a reason (i.e., return to his body at the end). If the intentions were a little more clear, maybe I could enjoy this flip-flopping a little more?
The sexual politics are one side of the story this week, and the court politics are another. After the explosion that nearly took Cheoljong’s life, we see him practically mummified in bandages while the court physician et al try to decide how to help him. Cheoljong appears (pretends) to have lost his hearing entirely, and thus at this sickbed, hears a lot of things he shouldn’t — namely, that So-yong tells him she will willingly betray him in order to stay alive.
Cheoljong makes a quick recovery, and wakes up a new man. His true identity has already been mostly revealed during his illustrious fight with Byung-in at the festival, and now he goes full-on. It’s so, so fun to see Cheoljong suddenly act like a king; every time he does, I have a new-found appreciation for Kim Jung-hyun and how much fire and intensity he can plug into a character who’s usually pretty dull (purposefully). This court needs a king who can be a righteous leader, so I’m anxious to see how Cheoljong fills this role now that he’s declared an end (finally!) to the regency reign of the grand queen dowager. Buh bye!
The court is full of so many alliances, fake alliances, subterfuge, deceit, and back-stabbing, that it’s almost overwhelming — who’s really a good guy? Who can we ever trust? Even though these questions continue to be floated as our story unfolds, I think this week we can truly say that Cheoljong is a full-blown hero now.
We’ve seen what he’s willing to risk, we’ve seen the men that are devoted to him, we’ve seen him stand his ground, and we’ve seen him confront the truth. And now that he’s fallen in love with So-yong, we can be confident that he’s going to protect her — and she needs protecting!
The grand queen dowager and Kim Jwa-geun have it out for the queen, and plan an elaborate (and very clandestine) way to poison her. Thanks to the smarts of our little kitchen friend DAM HYANG (Kang Chae-won), the queen’s life is saved — but the little girl meets great peril. I have loved the dynamic between So-yong and Dam Hyang over the past few weeks, so their scenes this week were some of my favorites.
Other important shifts and reveals are occurring in the court, too. Byung-in seems to be sinking into baddie mode, and has it out for the king. He’s also unwilling to listen to So-yong and save Dam Hyang; his stony gaze and bad behavior makes me wonder if he really is going to become our story’s villain (please say no?).
Finally, we learn about yet another double agent — the blind handmaid that seemed to be the grand queen dowager’s puppet is actually secretly serving the king. We see her leave secret messages for his guards, and together they work to save the queen.
I’m loving the intrigue-heavy turn we’re taking at this point in the story, but admittedly, I can’t let go of the logic around the wider story. The return to the real Bong-hwan a few episodes ago really threw me for a loop, and made me think we were going to linger on the tension between the two worlds. I’m waiting for that to happen, but was it just a red herring? If our hero is in the court to stay, that’s fine, I just need to know so I can let go and fully support his new identity.
- Premiere Watch: True Beauty, Hush, Mr. Queen
- It’s a match made in heaven in new Queen Cheorin teaser
- Shin Hye-sun becomes royal in new promos for Queen Cheorin
- Shin Hye-sun as the shocked Queen Cheorin in new tvN drama
- Photos from first script reading for fusion sageuk Queen Cheorin
- B.A.P.’s Yoo Young-jae joins tvN’s Queen Cheorin with Shin Hye-sun, Kim Jung-hyun
- Shin Hye-sun considers becoming a queen for tvN fusion sageuk